That said, "The biggest threat to all of these changes is the lack of security. If hackers can access accounts, there will be significant consumer pressure against the technological changes," Clouse says. "Unfortunately, our current evidence suggests that the hackers are one step ahead. They seem to come up with new ways to hack."
And you don't have to be Nostradamus to know that by 2033, paper statements, receipts and mail from your bank will probably be close to nonexistent. But we'll still probably get paper money from banks, says Eric Karson, associate professor of marketing at the Villanova School of Business in Villanova, Penn.
"There are huge cost savings to be realized with digital currency," Karson says, "but countering all this is consumer resistance to change. The act, not the coin," he adds.
But Karson does believe that 20 years from now, paper money and coins may be closer to extinction than ever, in part because the cost of producing currency will continue to climb, and customer resistance is bound to eventually weaken. "As time passes, more and more consumers will be more comfortable with all things digital. Today's kids will grow up. There will be less and less separation between their digital life and their life in general," Karson says.
Within 30 years. "People will pay for goods and services by sending wireless signals to sellers through wearable computers. The payments will be authenticated through the DNA signatures of all parties to a transaction," says Peter Cohan, who teaches business strategy at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and has his own eponymous management and venture capital firm. And by this point, he believes, "Cash and credit and debit cards will be history."
Which could have an interesting ripple effect, Clouse says. "If cash does go away, an interesting question is what happens to what are now illegal activities involving cash; for example, drug deals on the street corner, prostitution, et cetera," he observes.
Of course, it's possible that in 2043, some reader may stumble upon this article, look at his or her wallet full of paper dollars or renminbi (China's official currency) and snicker. After all, 34 years ago, in 1979, a task force appointed by President Jimmy Carter suggested the country get rid of paper currency and coins and replace everything with plastic. While that partially did happen, hard currency is still going strong: According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's website, as of July 2013, the currency in circulation totaled about $1.2 trillion.